GE Trip Reports
Tech's Filing Cabinet Miscellaneous General Electric RCA

I find the GE trip reports the most fascinating part of the Von Campbell collection. These were made by members of the CRT Department and were either visits for technology exchange, visits to vendors to work on particular projects, or visits to other divisions within GE to get educated on GE's technologies. Many of the other tube companies visited likely has cross-licensing agreements, but some didn't. The degree of cooperation is striking (in most cases).

A unique aspect of trip reports is that they give unvarnished, unbiased evaluations of other company's capabilities and facilities. If, say, Lansdale wrote up a summary of their own picture tube production line, they would give it the best spin and leave out the warts. GE had close access to many company's production lines and they called them like they saw them. This is invaluable to the researcher of the history of technology.

The trip reports are dated by a six-digit date code: YYMMDD to facilitate sorting by date.

Lansdale was the tube manufacturer (both receiving tubes and CRTs) owned by Philco.

Rauland was a technology company and CRT manufacturer owned by Zenith.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the location of RCA's CRT, phototube, and industrial tube production.

Lancaster Glass is not connected with RCA.


TripReport 460709 RCA-Lancaster - A detailed description of RCA's picture tube line, just as they were ramping up to make post-war TVs. The only TV CRTs RCA made at this time were the 10BP4 and the 5TP4 projection tube.

TripReport 461206 RCA-Lancaster - A detailed description of RCA's CRT production line in Lancaster, Pa. in 1946. Unsurprisingly, most of the line was unchanged from the war.

TripReport 480224 RCA_Lancaster - Another walk-through of RCA's CRT line, but now production has really ramped-up. It is February 1948 and the largest CRT RCA is making is the 10BP4, although there was some talk about a 16" tube.

TripReport 480505 RCA-Lancaster - A detailed description of the Lancaster plant itself as well as descriptions of all the tubes they made there, not just CRTs. You could pretty much set up your own CRT factory based on the material here.

TripReport 480603 Europe - This is a big one. In 1945, GE bought Ken-Rad in order to get back into the receiving tube business. It looks like Mr. Sylvan Ginsbury, an overseas manufacturer's rep, came along with the deal. It is not clear what part of GE the author of this trip report, C.R. Knight, comes from.

In 1948, Knight and Ginsbury contacted dozens of radio and electronic firms in Western Europe. Knight gives an excellent overview of the radio manufacturing situation in post-war Europe, and then lists the specific issues and questions from these firms. I am surprised that so many firms would consider buying American tubes in the face of dollar shortages and tariffs. It is striking how much of a strangle-hold Philips had on the tube market there.

Several mentions of a "85L6-GT (Z-1459)" tube are made. This sounds like a 0.1A version of the 50L6-GT which would work much better with other European tubes. Was this ever produced? Update: In the writeup for SBR: "I discussed our proposed Z-1459-A with them and they were very interested. However, they would be more interested if the heater current were 100 milliamperes rather than 150." So what exactly was the 85L6-GT???

I have a feeling that some of the requests for samples of speakers, variable-reluctance cartridges and picture tubes are for some "personal projects".

TripReport 480705 TelevisionInEngland - A visit to England in 1948 to review their 405-line system, broadcast from "Alexander Palace" in London. A nice review of the early post-war TV situation there and notes on the major manufacturers.

TripReport 490131 Lansdale - A look at Lansdale's (Philco's) 16" metal tube production line.

TripReport 490201 DuMont - Dumont made a lot of its own production equipment. Note the "spirit of cooperativeness".

TripReport 490201 RCA-Lancaster - Details on the CRTs RCA was making in early 1949. The 10BP4 and 5TP4 were still dominant, but the 16" round metal tube, the 16AP4, was ramping up.

TripReport 490329 RCA-Lancaster - Another 1949 trip to the Lancaster CRT line. Note the reluctance of RCA to implement aluminized screens or rectangular tubes.

TripReport 501025 RCA-Lancaster - A visit to RCA's picture tube plant in Lancaster, Pa. Interesting details on their 1950-vintage CRTs. Note that the author is our man, Von C. Campbell.

TripReport 501026 Rauland - Detailed survey of Rauland's Chicago picture tube line. From the website: Rauland bought Baird Television America in 1942 with its CRT line, and in 1948, Rauland was bought by Zenith.

TripReport 510131 RCA-Lancaster - Details of RCA's rectangular metal tube (17CP4) manufacture. Note the talk on aluminizing. RCA was reluctant to get into aluminizing, and the only tube at this time they aluminized was the 5TP4, a 30KV projection tube.

TripReport 510201 BuShips-DarkTraceTubes - Von Campbell goes to the Navy in Washington to review "dark trace" CRTs for radar displays. This technology was developed by the British and is explained in the MIT Rad Lab series (Vol. 22, p. 664).

TripReport 510314 RCA-Lancaster - Quality control at RCA's Lancaster plant. Lots of interesting details.

TripReport 510406 Sylvania - Notes on Sylvania's rectangular metal tube production, plus a plant walk-through.

TripReport 510821 Sylvania - A visit to Sylvania's Seneca Falls (N.Y.) picture tube plant to observe making 17" rectangular metal tubes.

TripReport 510828 Sylvania-SenecaFalls - Very detailed. Metal rectangulars are hard. Note the discussion of "X-burn".

TripReport 510830 Zenith&Rauland - Early (1951) experiments with tri-color tubes by Rauland. But Zenith didn't come out with color sets until years later.

TripReport 511108 RCA-Marion - A 1951 visit to RCA's second CRT plant in Marion, Indiana. It was based in an old Farnsworth building.

TripReport 511205 Sylvania - A review of Sylvania's exhaust procedures. Good technology exchange both ways.

TripReport 520307 Sylvania - Measurements of P7 and P14 persistence times to get agreement with Sylvania, GE, and the Navy.

TripReport 520321 IBM-NYC - The GE CRT guys visit IBM's Watson Laboratory in N.Y. City (at this time associated with Columbia Univ.) to explore possible business making data storage CRTs.

TripReport 520408 IBM-Poughkespie - A follow-up visit to IBM's tube laboratory in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where IBM made their own tubes using mainly purchased parts.

TripReport 520417 RCA-Lancaster - A visit to RCA to review life test results. RCA's test limits are a bit slacker than GE's. Nice flow chart of the test flow and AQLs.

TripReport 520522 Sylvania-SenecaFalls - A trip to Sylvania to study their "method of sparking tubes", sometimes called "spot knocking". Sylvania was doing this without understanding why. This became a big issue in the 1970s with color tubes

TripReport 520523 Corning - Filters for color TV work.

TripReport 520729 Corning - Visit to iron-out problems with the 21" and 27" bulbs.

TripReport 530507 CBS-Hytron-Newburyport - Details on CBS-Hytron's monochrome picture tube line. Fun incident - 20 tube chain implosion while CBS board of directors watch.

TripReport 530514 ThomasElectronics - A "shoe-string" operation. No spirit of cooperativeness.

TripReport 530515 Dumont - By 1953, most tubes made here are "electrostatics", i.e. electrostatic focussing (no external focus magnet).

TripReport 530519 Rauland - Very detailed. The second paragraph shows why most companies build their tube factories in rural locations.

TripReport 530521 Sylvania-Ottawa-Ohio - Sylvania's second CRT plant.

TripReport 530811 GE-ChemicalProducts - A meeting with GE's Chemical Products Works to get help in analyzing phosphors.

TripReport 530915 ConsolidatedVacuum - A proposed system for aluminization that is 1/3 the time of GE's current method.

TripReport 540315 CBS-Hytron-Danvers&Newburyport - A detailed look at CBS-Hytron's shadow-mask color tube production line and the GE inquiry on purchasing color CRTs (initial quantity: 10,000). Interesting comments on page 5.

TripReport 540317 IBM-Endicott - A report on a visit to IBM, Endicott, about IBM needs for computer CRTs

TripReport 540511 DuMont - Visit to Dumont to see their "Chroma-Sync Teletron", a variation of the RCA shadow-mask technology. This never made it to market. Note the issue of unmatched color phosphor decay times.

TripReport 540603 CBS-Hytron - Hytron designed a 19" aperture-mask color tube, similar to RCA's. GE was allowed a limited view of this. Clearly, Hytron was waiting for customer orders before setting up production. These never came. The CBS-Hytron 15HP22 was a predecessor to the 19" tube.

TripReport 540811 Corning - Corning's color glass bulb availability. Note the presence of rectangular color bulbs - GE planned to use the 22" version for their P.A. tube.

TripReport 540826 RCA-Princeton - This trip was to RCA's research labs in Princeton to discuss color tubes. RCA prototyped several versions of GE's "Post-Accelerator" (P.A.) color tube and had reservations (see LB-1026).

TripReport 540827 Corning - A trip to Corning Glass to discuss a 22" rectangular bulb for color. Note the cylindrical faceplate, needed for their vertical wire mask scheme (similar to Trinitron requirements).

TripReport 540903 RCA-Lancaster - A 1954 visit to Lancaster to look at the oscilloscope-type CRT production line. Note the comment at the end that CRT R&D funding was getting robbed by the color tube project.

TripReport 541025 GE_MediumInductionMotorDept - A trip to the motor dept. to see how insulating varnish is applied and spreads, and how this relates to "filming" the P.A. color tube phosphors. This is the kind of resource only a company like GE could draw upon.

TripReport 541029 Rauland - Screening and aluminizing is hard. Note the interesting discussion at the end about tube life being dependent on grid #1 aperture size.

TripReport 541117 Corning - Minor technical details on 22" bulb intended for GE's P.A. color tube.

TripReport 541120 Europe - An interesting trip report to Europe in 1954 to survey CRT technology. Note that this report kicks-off the consulting work Telefunken did for GE over the next several years.

TripReport 541124 Lansdale - A first look at the Apple tube. Note: "Lansdale is currently producing approximately one good tube per day, from fifteen starts. Current objective is to attain five tubes per day from fifteen starts, by the end of the year." Yikes!

TripReport 541201 GE_ResearchLabs-Ceramics - Ceramic pieces for use inside 22" P.A. color tube. GE had quite a sophisticated ceramics department.

TripReport 541203 HazeltineProjectionTVDemo - Hazeltine and American Optical demo a home version of a three-tube projection system, using the Philips Protelgram technology. Impressive, but just too expensive. They were ahead of their time.

TripReport 541206 DeRyder - DeRyder made up the electrical test set-up for the P.A. tube. I'm surprised this wasn't done in-house.

TripReport 541207 Corning - A review of Corning's methods of sealing the faceplate to the bulb. The "Electro-sealing" technique is interesting.

TripReport 541209 Lansdale - More Apple tube production reviews, with exchange of yield improvement ideas.

TripReport 541221 Corning - Tests to destruction of the 22" P.A. tube with wire frame.

TripReport 541222 Corning - The problems of making the glass faceplates ("pans") to tolerance. Note the problems of using Pyrex for the pan.

TripReport 541229 SchutteOptical - Going to an outside optical vendor to get the tolerances needed.

TripReport 550105 GE-Schenectady - The P.A. wire frames warp too much when baked in a hydrogen furnace (needed to outgas the frames). Position of wire tolerance = 1 to 2 mils.

TripReport 550110 PitsburghPlateGlass - The issues of making the faceplate by sagging plate glass. Note the new type 5533 glass that doesn't brown at 30KV and absorbs X-Rays.

TripReport 550120 KimbleGlass - Two trip reports on the use of frit (also called "solder glass") in attaching faceplates. Frit was pretty new at this point. It became instrumental in making future color tubes as well as Tektronix's ceramic CRTs, among other things.

TripReport 550125 Lansdale - "To investigate the Apple [tube] test and test equipment"

TripReport 550126 Lansdale - "To observe in detail the complete fabrication of the Apple Tube with respect to chemical processing techniques and to determine the cause and remedy for aluminum blistering."

TripReport 550126 OwenLibbyFord - More on frit and how to use it. Note that Kimble was a division of Libby-Owens-Ford.

TripReport 550207 LancasterLens_AnchorHocking_GE-LampDivision - Exploring the manufacture of a cylindrical-faced tube for the P.A. color tube from a small manufacturer.

TripReport 550208 GE-LampDivision - Getting ideas from the fluorescent lamp department.

TripReport 550217 GE-XRayDept - Exploring the use of X-Rays to test screen phosphors. Monochrome: OK, Color: Red didn't show up. 100KV X-Rays.

TripReport 550221 RCA-Lancaster - RCA gets more serious in trying to get GE to make A.M. (aperture-mask or shadow-mask) tubes. Some pretty interesting observations on the color tube business. Towards the end of the report, a discussion of the problems of GE's P.A. color tube vs A.M.

TripReport 550316 GE-ResearchLabs - An update from GE Labs on the latest vacuum techniques.

TripReport 550406 GE-Owensboro-TellCity-Cleveland - A review of GE's conventional (non-CRT) tube manufacturing at Owensboro and Tell City. Some nice tidbits here.

TripReport 550602 Lansdale - Considerable changes to the Apple Tube processing.

TripReport 550816 Lansdale - A trip to Lansdale (Philco) to see how they screened the vertical color stripes for the Apple tube. The registration problems are different from the P.A. tube, though.

TripReport 550922 GE-ResearchLab - Getting help from the GE Research Labs on how to reduce the secondary emission back scatter in the P.A. tube.

TripReport 551121 Lansdale - Here is a trip to Lansdale (Apple Tube). Note the "Iron Oxide Guard Band".

TripReport 551122 Philco - Corporate review of Philco helping with the "POF" tube. I think this is a version of GE's P.A. color tube. Note the last two paragraphs about the color TV market situation. By late 1955, it was clear that color TV was essentially a "bust".

TripReport 551201 Philco - A demo of a much-improved Apple Tube receiver. The latest version uses 44 tubes.

TripReport 551221 Sylvania-SenecaFalls - Details of Sylvania's color-dot screening process. Note the very close cooperation between Sylvania and GE. They likely had cross-licensing agreements.

TripReport 560101 JohnUnertlOptical - Going to an outside optical vendor to grind the face of the cylindrical-faced tubes.

TripReport 560208 Lansdale - Details on Philco's screening process and a review of the Kodak optical masters.

TripReport 560906 RCA - A visit to the 21" round color CRT (21AXP22) production line. The last paragraph is notable: RCA: "catch us if you can!"

TripReport 560921 Corning - "Study of Corning Manufacturing Technique". Various processes to insure bulb quality. Dsicussion on "lightweight" 21" 110 degree bulb.

TripReport 560927 KimbleGlass - A visit to one of the large CRT glass bulb makers. Impressive scale.

TripReport 561004 Kimble&Corning - Details of bulb manufacturing at both Kimble and Corning Glass.

TripReport 570625 Philco - Further advances in the screening process. The depth of GE's involvement with Philco is revealed in the last paragraph. Plus a note on Philco's new electron gun.

TripReport 570729 EMI - A brief report on the the visit to EMI. More to come.

TripReport 570812 Ediswan&EMI - Ediswan Cosmos & EMI. Note the VCR x 360 tube - a storage tube, and the new EMI/RCA photocathode. EMI had a close relationship with RCA since the 1930s.

TripReport 570812 EdiswanCosmos&20thCentury - More on Ediswan/Cosmos and 20th Century Electronics. Also more EMI.

TripReport 570817 CinemaTelevision-UK - Cinema Television. A second-tier company with a sad history.

TripReport 571007 VariousEuropean - A more detailed European trip report, this time in 1957. Note the openness of the hosts to the GE personnel, only a few of which had official "agreements" with GE.

TripReport 580516 GE_Labs&Eastman - Exploration of color schemes that could be used in a "home-type Eidophor projector". This was preparing for the Talaria project.

TripReport 581008 GE-Owensboro - In order to make shorter guns, competitors (i.e. Philco) use mica in their guns. Up to now reputable CRT manufacturers avoided mica due to dust and outgassing. GE visits Owensboro to get a lesson on using mica. Also info on heaters, cathodes, and getters.

TripReport 590225 GE-ResearchLab-GlennProjectionTube - Development plans for the "Glenn Projection Color TV" at GE's research labs. This is GE's first prototype of what would become the Talaria system.

TripReport 590306 GE-ResearchLabs - Updates on the Glenn Projection color TV system.

TripReport 590520 UofRochester-OpticsInstitute - Outreach to Prof. R. Hopkins of the University of Rochester on developing the Schlieren optics system needed by the Talaria project. Note Hopkin's warning of a lack of secrecy unless GE uses a private consulting firm associated with Hopkins. Nice side business.

TripReport 590707&570607 Philco - A two-year review of the Apple Tube. There is still hope, but it is not good enough. Note that the second attached trip report from 1957 shows the change from a secondary-emission indexing system to a UV photoelectric system (much better).

TripReport 591225 ASTM-Meeting - Meeting notes on an ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) on various subjects, including: IR temperature measurement, surface contamination, the magnesium oxide cold cathode, and Sylvania's "Sarong Cathode".

TripReport 601017 GE-LampDivision - Discussion with GE's Miniature Lamp Department on coiling tungsten heaters for their mica gun designs.

TripReport 610911 Motorola-Chicago - This is Motorola's 23" 90 degree rectangular color CRT. Note the year: 1961. I think this was the earliest production rectangular shadow-mask color tube.

TripReport 610913 Paramount-LawrenceTubeDemo - This is the Lawrence tube - using a single gun and a 3.58MHz signal on the vertical wires to actually demodulate the color in the tube itself. This has all the grill and phosphor stripe alignment issues that the GE P.A. tube and Apple tube have. Interesting history: Started in 1952 by Chromatic Laboratories, transferred to Dumont in 1957 (I guess the Chroma-Sync Teletron didn't work out), then to Autometrics (associated with Paramount) in 1960, then finally to Sony in 1962 (see 620418 trip report). Performance marginally OK, but worse than an RCA set.

TripReport 620117 Motorola - A 1962 proposal for a very close relationship between Motorola and GE for the 23" rectangular tube. I don't think this panned out.

TripReport 620418 LawrenceTubeDemo - Follow-up visit to Autometrics. Tube performance is exactly the same as in 1961. However, this big news is that Sony licensed the Lawrence technology and Autometrics decided to drop the technology and go to an inline three-gun design with the wires acting as a vertical shadow mask. Very high light output claimed. Except for the electron acceleration/deceleration schemes, this is identical to the GE P.A. tube and the later Sony Trinitron.

TripReport 621128 GE_ResearchLab - Research on thorium dispenser cathodes. The talk of oil in the vacuum means that this is for the Talaria project.

TripReport 641012 GE-Owensboro&VaccumProductsDept - High-level org charts of Owensboro's Tube department and the Vacuum Product Department (Schenectady), with emphasis on ceramic tube technology that could be used in the Talaria project electron gun.

TripReport 660307 LancasterGlass - Hand-drawn notes of visit to Lancaster Glass. These may be the notes for the following trip report.

TripReport 660308 LancasterGlass - Detailed description of the production line at Lancaster Glass.

TripReport 660309 OwensIllinois-Columbus - Hand-drawn notes of a visit to Owens-Illinois. They were not used for the early GE color tubes.

TripReport 660322 LancasterGlass - Another visit to Lancaster Glass to review the problems of inserting studs, presumably for mounting the shadow-mask.

TripReport 660824 LancasterGlass - Yet another visit to Lancaster Glass to try to help them out with production problems.

TripReport 660922 GE-Syracuse-MagneticFields - Outlines the need to keep magnetic field variations in the test area for color tube to less than 0.05 gauss, and the means to achieve this. What is odd is that the issue of magnetic homogeneity in the test area has never come up before in any of GE's analysis of color tube manufacturing. Plus this is 1966 - is this the first time GE is mass-producing color tubes (likely their "Porta-Color" tubes)?

TripReport 661025 GE-LampDept - A meeting with GE's lamp department to review issues for GE's own production of color bulbs.

TripReport 661130 LancasterGlass&GE-IndustrialHeating - A look at heating equipment for bakeout. Also a visit to Lancaster Glass. I'm not sure what the 13" tube they talk about is. Some of the dates seem wrong - maybe 1967?

TripReport 670110 GE-PersonalTVDept - A visit to GE's Personal Television plant in Portsmouth, Virginia to discuss CRT problems. 30% rejects for the 11SP22!

TripReport 670313 NorthernMetalProducts - Northern Metal Products Co. (Elk Grove, Il.) must be making the shadow masks. Details of inspection and rework procedures.

TripReport 670622 CanadianGE - Getting the Canadian GE plant up to speed in making the 15MP22 color tube.

TripReport 730330 Sylvania-SenecaFalls - A technology exchange with Sylvania regarding processes to minimize arcing in color tubes. Note the "sparking" schedule.